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Fundamental to the missional church is the
belief that mission is not primarily the activity of the church but the
Trinity’s. God’s passion for revealing his Trinitarian glory through creation
and covenantal relationships is what defines mission, is what the Missio Dei
(Latin for “the sending of God” or “mission of God”) is all about. His
mission is bigger than the church, is bigger than redemptive history. His
mission is eternal. Our God is a missionary God. He always has been and always
will be. Our call is to witness to His mission, joining in what He is already
at work doing. God is sent and we as his people must see our churches as
is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it
is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the
church.” (Jurgen Moltmann, The
Church in the Power of the Spirit) God’s mission to reveal himself began in
original creation takes on a redemptive yet connected shape in fallen creation
and will continue on into the new creation (see Chris Wright’s book, The
Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative). This is the theological
shift for the missional church. God is a missionary God.
In light of that worship is not the
instrumental cause of mission, rather worship and mission are both connected to
God’s desire to reveal Himself, and are inseparable from each another (worship
should be missional, mission should be worshipful). Thomas H. Schattauer in, Liturgical
assembly as locus of mission, fills this out. He says;
visible act of the assembly (in Christ by the power of the Spirit) and the
forms of this assembly–what we call liturgy–enact and signify this mission.
From this perspective, there is no separation between liturgy and mission. The
liturgical assembly of God’s people in the midst of the world enacts and
signifies the outward movement of God for the life of the world. Note that in
this approach, the relationship between worship and mission is not
instrumental, either directly or indirectly, but rather the assembly for worship
church joins God in the Missio Dei. The churches worship as well as her
approach to discipleship, mercy and justice, preaching, community life, and
everything else takes place in the context of the Missio Dei and is an
expression of God’s eternal character.
* I chose
John Piper’s book because of its wide acceptance and because Piper’s book is
very beneficial. In offering the critique of his view above please note several
overlaps in concern for worship and God’s glory. The main difference between
Piper and the missional church is a difference in how to define mission. Piper
defines it in soteriological terms, The missional church seeks to define
mission in light of theology proper (i.e. the doctrine of God). For Piper
mission happens between the fall and new creation. For the missional church
mission is apart of God’s nature and as such plays a defining role in all God
does. God has a mission in creation, in the fall, in consummation, and in new
creation. How He realizes his mission is different in each but his mission is
the same – His glory (something Piper would certainly agree with). The
missional church defines mission in broader biblical-theological terms, Piper
defines mission in narrower systematic-theological terms. Both offer helpful
perspective into the meaning of mission.
Is missions merely an interim agenda for God, something he pursues
between the fall of Adam and Eve and the full and final coming of His Kingdom
at His Son’s return; or is mission eternal?
Does mission exist because worship does not, and then pass away with
the new heavens and new earth? How are the two related?